(Last week: Detective Moran takes Chartan and Brazil in for questioning but releases them when it is learned that Elisa tried to shoot herself.)
Brazil and Chartan were near the police station exit when Moran stopped them. “Chartan, are you an attorney?”
“No, I have a chauffer’s license.”
“Ms. Cunning was hoping you were one.”
“Can I talk to her?”
“She needs an attorney first.”
“I’ll get her one. Where is she?”
“At St. Luke’s. Her room is guarded”
“What’s that mean?”
“An attorney is ok?”
Brazil coughed. “What about a ride?
Moran drove them—a brief trip without a word spoken.
After Moran left Brazil exclaimed, “Three hours down the drain.”
“Do you know an attorney?” asked Chartan.
“There’s one at the Vet Center I go to.”
An hour later Chartan and Brazil were seated at a table with a tired-looking man. Chartan explained Elisa’s predicament.
“My law practice is about getting people out of trouble,” said Mitch Sanders with a yawn.
“How does this work?” asked Chartan.
“I’ll talk to her after I find out what she’s charged with. If the accused is a vet, I offer my services for free, otherwise I need a $1,000 retainer.”
A short time later Chartan and Brazil stood outside Elisa’s hospital room with an officer at the door. Sanders had already gone in. After nearly an hour the haggard attorney emerged.
“She shot herself—tried to pin it on her husband who she didn’t know was in the drunk tank. I can get her off, but she’ll need help with her head. She kept asking for Chartan. Are you the boyfriend?”
“Friend,” replied Chartan. Do you need the $1,000 now?”
Sanders looked down. “No, she’s a veteran—former army nurse.” He raised his head. “Officer, my client wants to see this man.” He pointed to Chartan.
Elisa was propped up in a hospital bed with an IV stuck in her right forearm. The dim hospital light and her gray gown gave her skin a ghoulish appearance.
“Why? asked Chartan.
“I planned to wound myself with a gunshot to the fleshy part of my thigh. I’m a nurse so I know about not damaging arteries and organs. I was going to convince the police that my husband shot me in a jealous rage…jealous because you, Chartan, were my lover.”
Elisa paused to stare at Chartan who remained silent.
“I’m confessing ,” she shouted. “Doesn’t that mean anything to you?”
Chartan’s impulse to respond immediately was gone. He was in complete control.
Elisa’s eyes were moist. “I thought you helped people.”
Chartan held his blank look.
“I shot myself, doesn’t that concern you?”
“Elisa, do you want my help?”
Chartan studied her face. Their moment of intimacy had passed.
“I am leaving this room, not you.” He nodded at Sanders and left.
When he closed the door behind him, Chartan assumed Elisa was stunned by his departure. He told Brazil to leave.
Brazil grinned. “Hey, I didn’t need the last five hours, but she’s a messed up veteran like me, so all is okay.”
Chartan watched Brazil disappear down the hallway before opening the door. Elisa was sobbing with Sanders looking out the window.
Chartan paced around the room as if he were teaching a class.
“Who are you crying for? he asked.
“I’m lucky I don’t have a gun!”
(To be continued next Sunday.)
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